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My cat eats EVERYTHING!

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And you thought it was just dogs that go around eating everything in sight, destroying furniture and cherished personal belongings as they go. Well, think again!

There are some cats out there which develop obsessions for sucking and chewing on certain types of material (fabrics, wool, rubber... the list is practically endless) - sometimes even swallowing objects which then, alarmingly, need to be surgically removed! Bad enough that you find your favourite socks suddenly looking rather cattily odd, but watch out for that hefty vet bill to boot.

So here's the scoop: Generally, a cat that is still chewing and sucking on objects after six months of age is considered to be showing compulsive behaviour. And (try not to laugh now) obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) actually IS a recognised problem in cats (stop laughing!). Some cats even suffer from separation anxiety and are more likely to steal and chew objects to get attention in trying to deal with that (really?). And you thought your toddler was bad!

Here are a few tips that might help:

  • You can try redirecting your cat's outlandish appetite by offering chewy treats... something he can really sink his teeth into and spend time chomping on, such as jerky or even pieces of dog rawhide cut into cat-sized portions (careful, nothing small enough that can be swallowed whole!) which are first softened by soaking them in hot water and flavoured by adding a few drops of tasty tuna water.
  • Try distracting her from the bad habit of chewing the wrong things by making her work for her dinner; feed her some of her meal in toys designed to make getting at the food more interesting and fun. Putting canned food in ice trays is another trick to try.
  • Environmental enrichment (we could all use some of that!) can help reduce boredom which may be part of what is causing the problem. This means making your cat's environment more stimulating and interesting. A wide variety of good quality toys are essential, as is exercise and play. Spend time with your cat and make him chase after toys and food. Climbing trees and kitty gyms can also help.
  • Be sure to reduce possible causes of stress for your cat. These could be other pets, not enough safe places to sleep, or even being alone for most of the day.
  • Take a look around your home and remove anything that may be chewed and swallowed (string, rubber objects, small toys, flip-flops) to the extent possible.
  • If all else fails, you can talk to your vet about trying kitty prozac, as sometimes the use of drugs is the only thing that may work.
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